- February 5, 2016
The Ministry of National Education: We will support Polish education in Lithuania
We have already informed that at the end of last year the chairman of the Association of Polish Teachers in Lithuania „Macierz Szkolna”, a member of Lithuanian Parliament Józef Kwiatkowski, a councilor Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania of Vilnius Renata Cytacka and Danuta Narbut from the Vilnius Forum of Polish Parents submitted an appeal to Polish authorities regarding protection of Polish schools in Vilnius.
The appeal was submitted to Polish President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Beata Szydło, Marshal of the Sejm Marek Kuchciński, Marshal of the Senate Stanisław Karczewski, the chairman of Law and Justice, the biggest Polish political party, Jarosław Kaczyński who has lead to its historical victory, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Witold Waszczykowski, and the Minister of National Education Anna Zalewska.
L24 informed that at the beginning of January this year Marshal of the Sejm Marek Kuchcińśki replied to our appeal.
Defenders of Polish Education received another reply earlier this week. A writing was sent by Marzenna Drab who is serving the function of the Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of National Education of Poland.
She wrote that she sympathizes with the feeling of unrest among the Polish community due to Polish schools recently being in danger.
“I share your fears regarding the education system of Polish minority in Lithuania. I was deeply concerned while reading about a situation of schools with Polish as a language of instruction in Lithuania after the amendment of the Education Act from 2011. I was also seriously worried about difficulties which await Vilnius schools in the process of obtaining accreditation owing to the above-mention amendment,” wrote Marzenna Drab.
Marzenna Drab stressed that she respects that how persistent Poles are in their struggle for saving Polish education which appears to be a prerequisite for Polishness in Lithuania.
“At the same time, I genuinely appreciate and support your efforts to preserve schools with Polish as a language of instruction. Steps that you take clearly show an enormous determination and solidarity of the Polish community and prove that education is of the utmost importance for Poles in Lithuania,” she added.
Not giving accreditation to Polish schools and a lack of communication between Lithuanian government and Polish minority are noncompliant with the Treaty between Lithuania and Poland and with standards applied in the European Union,” wrote Marzenna Drab.
“The fact that needs to be stressed is that evidently the situations you’ve mentioned i.e. lack of an open dialogue between Lithuanian government and Polish community and actions connected with accreditation of schools with Polish as a language of instruction are clearly contrary to the Lithuanian-Polish Treaty of Good Neighbourship and Friendly Cooperation signed on 26th April 1994. Those kinds of situations are also contradictory with standards applied in the European Union as regards the right of national minorities to learn their mother tongue,” mentioned the Undersecretary.
She recalled it was Lithuania itself that committed to protect national minorities.
Lithuania, being a member of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities that came into effect on 1st February 1995, obliged to recognize the right of everybody who belongs to national minority to learn their mother tongue and provide them with necessary opportunities to be educated in their native language. Moreover, members of the Convention committed themselves to support an equal access to education on every level for national minorities. It seems to be especially important as Polish community in Lithuania strives for keeping schools with Polish as a language of instruction on the secondary level,” she declared.
Marzenna Drab assured that Poland will take important steps as regards this issue.
“Poland is going to get a confirmation that according to agreements of the Convention languages of national minorities ought to be treated as a great value. The Ministry of National Education of Poland will pursue to start a dialogue with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania. It would be a conclusive evidence that Lithuania carefully listens to its fellow citizens, representatives of Polish minority, whose organisations have frequently expressed their need to keep the right to be able to learn in native language on all levels of education. At the same time, I assure that the Ministry of National Education of Poland will continue to support Polish education in Lithuania,” declared the Undersecretary.
Translated by Karolina Wojdat within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.